Cardboard Crafts and Project Ideas

Cardboard Crafts and Project Ideas

Cardboard- boxes, tubes, and otherwise- is one of those things that can really add up in the recycle bin. Or, in the case of boxes, be hard to get rid of “because it’s a really good box”, leading to box hoarding! But there’s a third option to consider- cardboard crafts because it’s such a fantastic canvas for any number of upcycle ideas and craft projects. Here are some inventive ways to repurpose cardboard in creative and functional ways.

DIY Fire Starters

DIY fire starter or dryer lint fire starter for emergency prepping

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

These DIY fire starters are SO handy for your fireplace, chimenea, or backyard fire pit- plus they’re easy to make and use things you’d normally toss. Dryer lint, toilet tissue tubes, and wax paper (or newspaper) are the only ingredients you need to make them. Such a great way to repurpose and reuse items that would otherwise end up in the trash or recycle bin.

Homemade Flower Press

making a flower press from cardboard

Image credit: Salvaged Living.

Pressing flowers for any number of craft projects is always a fun idea (and experiment), but how to do it? Well, a flower press, of course! And you can make your own press by upcycling some cardboard from a recent online order. How cool is that?

Wall Decor Ideas

Fashion wall art by upcycling the envelopes of vintage sewing patterns

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

You may not be able to see the cardboard in this project idea, but trust me when I tell you it’s there. Salvaged from a shipping box, pieces of cardboard were wrapped in vintage fabric in order to showcase envelopes from vintage sewing patterns. Such a great way to create wall decor and this idea could be modified in any number of ways.

Cardboard Crafts for Valentine’s Day

valentine's day banner from cardboard

Image credit: Homeroad.

Garlands and banners for different holidays and seasons are as popular as ever. Whether hung on a mantel or somewhere else, they’re a charming way to mark time throughout the year. And in this case, cardboard hearts were strung together into one of the cutest cardboard crafts ever for Valentine’s Day.

No-Maintenance Cactus

cardboard cactus

Image credit: The Crafty Lumberjacks.

Cactus plants are super popular right now, but they can be a little dangerous around little fingers and curious paws. But this faux version uses cardboard from your recycling bin to get a similar effect without the pain.

Cat Cave in a Moving Box

Repurposing tshirts into a DIY cat cave or pet tent

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Will a cat hop into the first cardboard box they see? Yes. Will they love it even more if you add one of your old t-shirts to the mix and turn that box into a cave? Absolutely! You can even make a few catnip toys from your old t-shirts, as well.

Upcycling a Gift Box

cardboard gift box as a planter

Image credit: Petticoat Junktion.

Cardboard might not be the best bet when it comes to potting real plants. But when used as a “planter” for the faux variety, it’s a completely different story! And the way this white gift box was painted makes it look like something you’d see at a home decor boutique, doesn’t it?

Fabric Christmas Crackers

fabric christmas crackers from crafting with flannel

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Christmas crackers are a fun little surprise to add to your dinner parties or for wrapping smaller gifts. And while these don’t have the traditional “pop”, they are doubly-repurposed: using old flannel shirts as the fabric and cardboard tubes leftover from paper towels or gift wrap.

The tutorial for this project can be found in my book, “Crafting with Flannel” by Sarah Ramberg.

Branded Party Coasters

cardboard coasters for a party

Image credit: Dukes and Duchesses.

Throwing a party any time soon? Then these recyclable coasters are perfect for your needs! Easy to make and decorate to your heart’s content (these are actually branded with an initial!), they’re a great way to get more mileage out of cardboard before recycling it for good.

Cardboard Crafts for Halloween

cardboard crafts for halloween

Image credit: Homeroad.

Holiday decorations are only used for a few weeks each year, but they can get really expensive. Which makes cardboard crafts like this a fantastic way to keep the festivities under budget! I mean, look how cute this ghost wreath is…and all it cost was the paint used to give them their spooky-cute look.

Faux Cactus Dish Garden

making a cactus garden with ceramic cactus figurines

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

When I had the idea of “planting” faux ceramic cactus in this low-sided basket, I needed to first “raise” up the center of the basket. And I needed to use something sturdy but lightweight- such a conundrum. But you guessed it, cardboard was the answer! Even though you don’t see it anymore, cardboard was the perfect answer to the crafting dilemma I faced before finishing this cute cactus dish garden.

Cardboard as Gingerbread

gingerbread garland from cardboard boxes

Image credit: Pillar Box Blue.

If you think about it, traditional cardboard is almost the exact same color as graham crackers. Which makes it absolutely PERFECT for transforming into gingerbread house decor at Christmastime. All you need is a white paint pen to add the details and voilà- you have a recycled dupe for all your gingerbread house decorating needs.

“Zhuzhing” Shelves with Cardboard

decorating the back of shelves with fabric wrapped cardboard

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

Looking to embellish your shelves or bookcase but don’t want to commit to anything permanent? Then cardboard crafts like this are your solution! Simply measure out sheets of cardboard that fit against the back of each shelf and wrap with fabric (or paint). As long as the fit is snug, it’ll stay propped up unassisted in the back, giving your bookcase or cabinet shelves a fancy (but non-permanent) makeover.

Fake Firecracker Decor

Independence day decorations with fake firecrackers from cardboard tubes

Firecrackers and July 4th go hand in hand- but, I have to admit, I hate listening to them all night long. So instead, I enjoy this silent version as patriotic decor- faux firecrackers made from cardboard paper towel tubes!

Cardboard Crafts for Storage

upcycle idea for tissue boxes

Image credit: Sustain My Craft Habit.

With the right makeover, you’d never be able to tell that these storage bins started out as long tissue boxes, would you? They almost look like baskets now, thanks to this creative craft project! And you could totally repurpose some cardboard shoeboxes in this same manner, as well.

Mini Log Cabin

snow scenes for winter decorations

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

For making miniature snow scenes for Christmas or winter, look no further than the cardboard coffee cup sleeve from your last Starbucks run. The dainty corrugations perfectly mimic the look of a log cabin. Which means you can make charming cabin-style Putz houses like this for all your miniature displays and snow globes.

Crafting with Cardboard Crates

painting a cardboard crate

Image credit: Homeroad.

A low-sided cardboard crate is a thrifty way to create a table centerpiece- especially for holiday and seasonal decor. In this case, a cardboard crate was given a patriotic makeover with stars and stripes, just in time for July 4th. And now it’s ready to be filled with flowers and any number of decorative pieces.

Cardboard Crafts and Project Ideas

cardboard art

Image credit: Sadie Seasongoods.

It really is amazing how versatile cardboard is- in all its forms, no less. If these cardboard crafts have taught us anything, it’s that the crafting possibility for boxes and tubes is virtually unlimited. And even artistic- I mean, check out this cardboard frame I found at a thrift store! I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but you know I brought it home with me. And I might just be hanging onto a few extra cardboard boxes for future projects, as well…

Craft on!


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cardboard boxes and tubes for craft projects

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.

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